St. Charles Herald-Guide

High price for purity

By Dan Juneau - July 3, 2012

Our chief justice of the Supreme Court fled from the field of sanity on June 28 and ceded the struggle over containing massive federal government control over commerce and individual rights to the motley crew in Congress who laid the decomposing cadaver of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on his door step.

One can sympathize with Robertsí plight in having to sort through that sordid mess from a constitutional standpoint. But one canít respect his putting the "well being" of the court over the disaster that will soon start unfolding as the ACA further explodes health care costs, rations care, distorts physician/patient relationships, and explodes the already soaring federal debt crisis.

There is little doubt in my mind that the fear of another potentially massive body checking of the court into the hockey boards by President Obamaís political attack dogs influenced Robertsí legal folly in the decision he authored in this historic case. The Left has propagandized the high courtís ruling in Bush v. Gore as a politicization of the court, a partisan sin committed by ideologues.

That attempt to pitch the court high and tight was followed up by President Obamaís tongue-lashing of them while they sat before him at his State of the Union address after the Citizens United case. Shortly before the ACA decision, Obama himself angrily declared that finding any of the act unconstitutional would be a total usurpation of legislative branch authority. (This from a president who routinely decides which statutes on the books he deems proper to enforce.)

It was a successful strategy on the part of Obamaís Chicago political operatives. Roberts was sensitive to the charge of the court being a partisan body and made sure that potentiality went away. After all, loss of personal freedom, accelerating the implosion of our health care system, and pushing the national debt further over the cliff pale in comparison to maintaining the "integrity" of the court.

Ironically, the four liberal justices who enthusiastically joined Roberts in his ruling would never worry about the "politicization" of the court if it stood in the way of their agenda to massively expand the power and influence of the federal government.

Robertsí fig leaf was his "staunch" attempt to prevent a broader interpretation of the Commerce Clause to uphold the ACA. His opinion declared that would not be constitutional. Instead, he ruled the individual mandate provision to be a "tax." How quaint.

There is no mention anywhere in the legislation of the individual mandate being a tax. There are a bevy of new taxes created and clearly labeled as such in the law, but the mandate was carefully and clearly designated to be a penalty, not a tax. Republicans challenged the Democrats in Congress throughout the debate on the bill that the individual mandate was a tax.

The congressional Democrats and Obama rent their garments and screamed "Blasphemy!" every time that charge was levied. As several of the conservatives who were in the minority on the high courtís decision noted, Roberts and the majority were egregiously rewriting the statute from the bench to achieve the result they wanted.

Roberts now has his illusion of court "purity." The nation has a mess to deal with. Employers, now certain of their fate, will continue to perfect ways to reduce labor costs. That usually negatively affects those who labor for them. Large elements within the health care industry supported this insanity in order to get a better view from their cell in the gulag. They will soon see their rations of gruel thinned as the costs and consequent deficits continue to soar. The eventual "solution" to the coming fiscal implosion will be less care provided less frequently by a lower level of professional caregivers.

But take heart everyone: the court remains "pure."